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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  September 15, 2009 12:00pm-4:59pm EDT

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but on what somebody may like, and what may look good, to me doesn't connect with common sense. i'm probably a minority in that opinion. in this building. but i'm not a minority on that opinion in this country. when times are good, you can afford to make such discretionary spending mandates on the states. when times are tough, when infrastructure is in poor shape, when the quality of our roads is taking people's lives every day and when our bridges are falling down, chunks are falling off of them and injuring people severely, as happened in tulsa six weeks ago on an interstate bridge, falls through the windshield of a car, critically
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injures an individual who's just driving down the interstate, it is time for us to use common sense on how we spend this money. i also would make one other point, is that this bill, compared to last year, in terms of real numbers, not in terms of the numbers that have been spun out there, is a 22% increase. and if you go through all the appropriations bills we're bringing to the floor and what we've already passed, it's like there's no recession going on. there's absolutely no inflation, and yet we're growing government at 12 times the rate of inflation. and we're doing it on bill after bill after bill. there's no apology anywhere from the appropriations committee that we're sorry we have to
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spend this increased amount of money, in spite of the fact that we absolutely don't have it. and that we can't winnow down and make our priorities sharper and better. no, what we do is we just bump the number. just in case you're interesting -- interested, if you included contract authority, this $75.8 billion -- and even if you don't include contract authority, you have a 12% increase. in the h.u.d. portion of the bill, we have a 10% increase. so it's not just transportation. we're increasing housing and urban development 10%. so there's no inflation, tax revenues are down, there is a no question we have greater needs. but there's no force to say, how do we more efficiently put out the money? how do we hold those spend the money more accountable?
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how do we get greater value for the money we are spending? you know what we do? we take the credit card out of our pocket and we put it in an a.t.m. that says charge to your grand chairntion charge to our children. that's what we do. and then we come up here and we say, this is absolutely necessary. you know, the vast majority of families in this country today are making tough decisions, very tough decisions. they're saying, either i'm -- i have a job, i'm lucky to have a job, and boy am i thankful and i don't want to end up with a job, i think i'll start prioritizing where i have to spend money. the people who are one of the two workers in the family who have lost their job, they're make those tough decisions every day. what is an absolute necessary and what isn't? there -- the average american -- and actually it is more than the
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average american. almost every american is making those kinds of decisions today. but isn't it curious that the congress isn't? isn't it curious that we don't prioritize? isn't it curious that it's been years under republican control and democrat control, since we've had an appropriations bill that comes out that spends less money? isn't -- are all these agencies efficient? could it be done in a better way to get better value with less money? could we force savings in these branches of government? those questions aren't even being asked. there's no priority questions being asked. what we say dew is say here's our 30 -- what we do is say here's our 302-b number. what we do is say how efficient is what we need, how is the efficiency under the policy prescriptions that we give them,
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and what are we going to do about it? so we come out spending hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars with billions of earmarks. you know, i heard mentioned about the earmarks. what the american people need to know about earmarks is this. it's not the earmark that's bad. it's the extortion that comes with the earmark. because everybody here knows that if you have an earmark in an appropriation bill, and you don't vote for the appropriation bill, the next time you want an earmark, guess what happens? they happen -- they happen to remind you that, oh, you had an earmark in the last one but you didn't vote for the bill. so, you know, since you're not supporting our bill, we're probably not going to be as likely to include your earmark. now, what does that do? what that does is it takes the problem -- the problem with earmarks is it takes the focus off what we're doing collectively for the best of the country and makes the folk bus s
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about the individual and the state. there's nothing in this document, which is the u.s. constitution, that gives us the right to think about our states. when you're sworn in here, they don't say tom coburn, oklahoma, you'll uphold the constitution as long as it protects oklahoma. it says you'll uphold the constitution. for our founders knew that any state couldn't be healthy unless we as a nation were healthy. and yet earmarks undermine that every time and force us back to appropriations committee yolist. not a federalism, a parochialism. so we take the money from individuals and the various states and then through our wisdom of all knowledge in washington, we send it back so we look good rather than leaving the money there in the first place and letting you decide how best to spend your own money.
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so we don't -- we don't lessen spending. we always increase it. we claim oversight, which we never do to the level that is required with a government as big as this. and then we complain if somebody wants to eliminate earmarks. not because the individual earmark may not be a good thing. i can't think of many earmarks that probably aren't good things. but because the earmarks aren't necessarily a priority for the nation as a whole. and that's the difference in being and enhancing statesmanship versus politics. it is okay for oklahoma to lose for a period of time if our country gets better. i've explained that to my state. i've refused to do earmarks for my state. the reason is, is we're in a big pot of trouble right now as a
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nation. a large pot of trouble. if you watch the dollar index in the markets, what you're seeing happen in the last two weeks is the value of your savings are going down because the value of the dollar is declining rapidly. because everybody knows that the money that we're borrowing today will only be able to be paid back through highly inflated dollars. so what you've worked for your entire life, what you dreamed for for your kids we are undermining here in the little bit in this very bill. it's just a little bit, but, you know, a whole bunch of little bits become a lot. and so here we go. we don't make the priorities, we don't make the hard choices, we increase the spending a ridiculous amount for the time we find ourselves in, knowing that a good portion of the
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spending is going tore bo goingd from our kids, as we watch the dollar flounder, knowing that the value that you put aside for your children in the future isn't going to be worth anything. it's a pretty sick, neurotic system that we're operating under because it doesn't have enough sunshine on it. and that was the purpose for senator mccain's amendment. that's the purpose for this amendment. let's have some transparency. let's have some common sense. let's not force state transportation departments who need critical dollars for bridge repair and road repair to spend it on a bicycle path that nobody's going to ride. or a sound barrier that truly doesn't cut the sound. let's don't -- let's spend it on roads and bridges. let's not force them to make choices that are stupid. let's trust people to do what's
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right. you know, the other observation i'll make -- and then i'll clo close -- when i was -- i was born in 1948. and i've seen a shift in our country in that 60-plus years. our nature and our history used to be that we trusted american citizens. i'm talking the federal government. that we assumed you would do the right thing. you know, unfortunate today, so much of the assumption of the federal government, especially as it relates to the states, is on the basis that we know you're going to do the wrong thing and we're here to catch you. and we know better, and we're going to tell you how to do it, when to do it and where to do it. and that came as we had supreme
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court rulings that took away the constraints that our founders said was necessary. it's call the you're niewr you'd powers of the constitution. if you want, you can look up it. when you look at what jefferson and madison had to say about that, we have totally been violating the intent the last years in this country of what they said, what they meant and what we knew they would say about what they meant. and so we find ourself in the position -- find ourselves in the position where we dominate with the power of dollars and taxation to the detriment of our freedom, to the detriment of common sense, and the detriment of good will. i'm not sure how the chairman and ranking member will respond to this amendment, but for this time, at this time, where we
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find ourself and the situation we find ourselves, we ought to eliminate this mandatory 10% and let oklahoma and kansas and texas and kentucky and new york build bridges and highways, not build he is statics wit esthetir money, which we took and then sent it back, w all these strings on it. with that, he'd yiel i'd yield . mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: madam president, i want to thank the senator for doing what we've been asking him to dond other senators to come to the floor and get their amendments offered. i will be talking with the senator from oklahoma over the next short while to figure out the order in moving to his amendments for votes as he has requested. we do have another amendment that has been offered by senator mccain, amendment number 2375, that we would like to get a vote on before the caucus lunches.
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and so i would ask unanimous concept that the amendment number 2375 be the pending business. the presiding officer: is there an objection? without objection, so ordered. mrs. murray: madam president, we are currently working out with both sides to move to a vote on this fairly quickly, so i would advise senators' offices to be ready for a vote shortly. and we will wait for that to occur here as soon as we can make that happen. mr. bond: mad, i joimr. bond: mi join with my colleague thanking the senator from oklahoma four ar --oklahoma for offering these amendments. we are looking at these amendments. some of them i hope -- i think they are good amendments, i hope can be accepted. we have some -- some of our staff looking at the details of other amendments to see what impact they had, but we will -- we have to determine whether there would be any untoward consequences from one of the
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amendments which i think actually comes within the -- probably comes within the jurisdiction of the environment and public works committee. and i would invite them to come down and look at it. but i tank the senato thank them oklahoma for offering these amendments and for bringing this up for discussion. and i join with my colleague from washington, the chair of the subcommittee of thud on urging that we move forward with a vote. we've got lots of work to do. we were on this thursday, on friday, on monday. now it's tuesday and we have a short day. and then there's wednesday and there's thursday. and this bill needs to be passed. so moving the amendments forward, getting votes on them, having a discussion is very important. i thank the chair and i yield the floor. mrs. murray: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: quorum call:
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mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: madam president, i now ask unanimous consent that at 12:24 today that the senate proceed to vote in relation to the mccain amendment with the two minutes equally divided and controlled in the usual form and no amendments be in order prior to the vote. the presiding officer: without objection.
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the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: madam president, how much time do i have? the presiding officer: one minute. mr. mccain: one minute. thank you. madam president, the amendment would take $1.7 billion in this bill for the 589 congressionally directed spending projects known by most americans as earmarks and redirect that money toward air traffic control modernization. every day americans sit on a runway, miss meetings, children's soccer games, family dinners, and other important events due to air traffic delays that could have been avoided if our nation had a modernized air
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traffic control system. the government accountability office estimates that one in four flights is delayed. the major jury, though here, madam president, as important as modernization of the air traffic control system is this bill has 589 earmarked projects on it worth $1.00 billion - -- $1.7 billion when we're facing the highest deficits in the history of this country, americans all over this country are rising up and saying: stop. stop this pork barrel earmarking which breeds corruption in the nation's capitol. i urge my colleagues to vote for the amendment. mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: madam president, the bill before us contains 50% less earmarks than in 2006, and, importantly, these are priorities of senators who have brought them to us less than 1% of the bill. even more importantly, what the amendment before us does, and i'm a strong supporter of
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nextgen, it puts money to the f.a.a. that they cannot spend. this is a program that needs strong oversight. we've been told that in our committee time and time again by the i.g. and others before us. we the want to move forward on nextgen. this amendment will give them money they will not able to spend. i urge our colleagues to vote against this amendment. madam president, i yield back all of our time and move to table and ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the ayes are 68 and the nays are 26. the motion to table is agreed to. mrs. murray: move to lay it on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: madam president, the senate's not in order. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 2:15 p.m.
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>> this morning on capitol hill, joint chief of staff mike mullin told lawmakers the war in afghanistan probably will require more troops at a senate hearing on reappointment to his post. the question and answer portion followed starting with armed services chairman carl levin. >> admiral, has general mccrystal submitted yet a request for special additional resources for afghanistan? >> no, sir, he's not. >> has the decision been made on whether to commit additional u.s. forces to afghanistan beyond the 17,000 combat troops
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and the 4,000 trainers that the president approved in february? >> no, sir. >> has the recommendation been made by you or secretary gates to president obama be relative to sending additional troops to afghanistan? >> sir, we've made our recommendation based on the assessment, but we have not having received the request from general mccrystal yet, we've made no recommendation with respect to forces. >> and how many of the 17,000 combat forces and the 4,000 trainers that were previously committed, how many of them have arrived in theater, and when will the balance arrive? >> that -- they are all just about there. the balance will be there by the end of this month. the last group is really the fourth of the 82nd trainers who are at the end of their arrival,
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getting in place and will take over the mission. the training mission, these 4,000 soldiers, very quickly. >> you've testified, admiral, that an essential step in regaining the initiative in afghanistan to succeed there is to build the capacity of the afghan security forces, the afghan army and police and empowering them to provide security for their own country. is the afghan army respected by the afghan people? >> it is from my perspective the most respected institution in afghanistan. >> and are they committed fighters? >> they are. they've been fighting for a long time. >> now, how many additional trainers is it going to take to build the afghan army to, let's say, 250,000? >> the rough, the rough estimate is somewhere between 2 and 4,000
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in terms of overall trainers. >> is that additional to what's there now? >> yes, sir. >> and what is there now? >> training wise it's about, i think it's about 6,000, 6500. >> and how many of those additional trainers should be supplied by nato? >> as many as possible. the countries who are capable, and there's some very capable countries in nato at training both police and the army, we would like to see them step up as much as possible. >> and when you gave a number for additional trainers for the army, did that include, does that include additional trainers for the police, or is that a separate number? >> no, that's inclusive. >> both. >> yes, sir. >> okay. on the equipment issue, would you agree that as we withdraw equipment from iraq that a major priority should be transferring to afghanistan the equipment needed to build the capacity the
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afghan security forces to provide for their security? >> yes, sir. >> and what, what is being done in that regard? >> well, in fact, your question when it came back off this trip caused us to focus to see exactly where we were, and i met yesterday with general petraeus and general mccrystal, had a vtc with them where we discussed this. and, in fact, there are some 2,000-plus humvees in kuwait which are being refurbished that will be accelerated into afghanistan. and the required focus on this to make sure that we are moving that as rapidly as we can, and it's also tied to their ability to absorb this and train to it. >> and is that review going to be conducted to determine what other types and quantities -- >> yes, sir. >> -- that would be needed and usable?
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>> yes, sir. right. we're doing a full-scale review in that regard. >> and when will that review be completed? >> i think we'll know that within the next couple of weeks. >> and will you make that available to us? >> yes, sir. >> is that going to take any additional legislation, do you know? >> no, sir. i'm not aware of any right now. >> general mccrystal has spoken, and i think you have, too, as a matter of fact as has the secretary about the great potential for reintegrating local taliban fighters and getting them to switch over to the government side. now, there's a lot of differences between afghanistan and iraq, but one of the similarities could be that incentives for low and mid-level taliban fighters to switch from enemies to allies could be put in place. number one, is a plan now going
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to be developed to put into place an approach in afghanistan to reintegrate young afghan fighters? >> yes, sir. there's a, there's a british general by the name of graham lamb who is working, who did this in iraq and who is now working for general mccrystal. and has initiated -- i don't want to overstate this -- has initiated putting in place a program to do, to focus on mid-level and lower-level fighters who would like to turn themselves in and do so in a way, obviously, that in which they are both protected and that they have a future. so in that regard similar to sons of iraq. >> has that plan been worked out with afghan leaders? >> it is, it includes afghan leaders in its initial inception which we're really at the beginning of right now. so we're not very far down that road. >> but what's been the delay in
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getting that done? >> i, actually it has not been an area of focus, and we haven't had somebody there like general, like lamb to focus on it. >> well, this committee i think over two-thirds of us signed a letter back four, five months ago on the question of the size of the afghan forces. we pointed out that the, excuse me, afghan defense minister has called for an army between 250,000 and 300,000 soldiers. the minister of interior in afghanistan supported the strategic increase in the size of the army. we, we urged you to declare a target at that time for end strengths for the army and the police to those levels.
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and i'm just wondering what has been the delay in adopting goals for the increase in the size of the afghan army given what our people on the ground say which is their presence with us, obviously, as mentors, as partners is critical to the security for afghanistan. what has been the delay in establishing the larger goals? >> i think if there's been any reason for a delay, it's been where we are now in terms of our overall numbers which is at 93,000 in the army, about 90,000 in the police. and the timing of your letter came right at about the time we were making a leadership change out there. general mccrystal has embraced the requirement to grow these forces and grow them more rapidly, and i am sure that that will be part of the output of the assessment, if you will,
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because we're all very committed to making that happen. and i would, i mean, i would assume that as a result of this assessment we will establish those goals, and i wouldn't expect them to be far off from what were recommended. >> thank you. >> what was recommended before. >> thank you. senator mccain. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, admiral mullen. on this issue of simply relying on the buildup of the afghan army, we tried that for several years in iraq, as you may recall, by april 2004, in fact, the department of defense reported that there were 208,000 iraqis either on duty or being trained for security units. same month attacks by sunni and shia, basically the iraqi army collapsed. and what we found out, that we succeeded only after we instituted a practice of
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mentorship including joint operations with u.s. combat forces at every level that we saw marked improvement in the iraqi forces. is there any under any reasonable scenario, admiral, a prospect that trained afghan security forces can handle the bulk of the fighting over the near to medium-term? >> no, sir. >> if we followed such a course, do you think the situation in afghanistan would improve or get worse? >> i think it would probably continue to deteriorate. >> thank you. general mccrystal, excuse me, admiral, general mccrystal's assessment of our strategy in afghanistan has been closely held and is currently under review, as you stated, both in the pentagon and in the white house. the assessment, as i understand it, contains no requests for additional troops but is instead
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being described as a new strategy for the president's consideration and endorsement. last march didn't the president adopt a new strategy for afghanistan with considerable fanfare? >> yes, sir. i think that the description of general mccrystal's assessment -- >> you can watch this hearing in its entirety at c-span.org. we're going to leave it now to take you live to house republicans talking about financial regulations, one of several events today marking one year since the government stepped in to shore up financial markets. you see spender -- spencer bachs on your screen, he'll be joined by other republican committee members. live coverage. >> we need smarter regulation. not that we need more regulation , that we need the governmental agencies that are assigned to assure safety and soundness and consumer protection do their job.
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not the creation of more government agencyies -- agencies. consolidation, not more agencies. we became the greatest economy in the world through hard work, innovation, individual choice and allowing people to succeed and to fail. we don't want to give that up. unfortunately, that's a lesson that was lost on the administration as it pursues an overly ambitious economic agenda. as in the case of health care and energy policy, the president has offered a reform proposal that would grant broad new authorities to government bureaucrats, create new government agencies and bureaus while unduly intruding into the private markets, innovation and restricting personal choice. we need an approach to regulatory reform that draws on the strength of our economy and
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our present system. we need to end the bailouts once and for all, get the government out of picking winners and losers in the market and restore market discipline so that financial firms will no longer expect the government or more correctly the taxpayers to rescue them from their consequences of their improved business decisions or guarantee their obligations. those are the principles from which the republican regulatory bill is based. in addition, a number of us have introduced legislation this week to create an independent trust to divest the government's ownership interest in companies such as aig, general motors, citigroup and chrysler. to expand on the points i've outlined, i'm pleased to be joined by a number of my esteemed colleagues from the financial services committee.
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at this time i want to call on a member of our committee but also the ranking member of the agricultural committee, frank lucas, for his remarks. >> thank you, ranking member bachus, and it's been a pleasure to serve with you on the financial services committee as well as in my role as ranking member on the house agricultural committee. at a time when america's becoming more cost conscious and literally that means the business of america also, dealing with the financial challenges they face this proposal from the administration with its goals of higher margin requirements and all of its other capital requirements seems to place a potential for a dramatically greater cost on using the financial derivatives in order to spread their risks in the coming months, days, and years. that, i think s probably one of the greatest errors in this proposal. at a time when we face these
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challenges, when business has legitimate needs for these kind of tools, we set a standard -- potentially could drive these instruments right out of existence. we on the ag committee have worked very hard and also in my role in financial services have tried to create a balance to understand that the derivatives and the over-the-counter markets represent a very fundamentally important financial tool for a number of industries. were there problems and challenges? yes. the basic principle behind these products sound? yes. can we do more things to rationally provide oversight? absolutely. but the direction the administration appears to be headed i think deviates away from it and takes us in a destructive direction that will provide fewer options for our business and thereby increasing risk and exposure. with that i'd like to turn to one of my colleagues from the
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financial services committee, ranking subcommittee member, the gentle lady from illinois for some observations she has. congresswoman judy baker. >> thank you, mr. lucas. i guess you're the twofer for this press conference. thanks for all your comments. you know, what's the answer to the financial meltdown? how do we prevent it from having again? what is not the answer is the democrats' plan to create another federal agency, allegedly to protect consumers. we already have the occ, the ots, the ncua, the fdic and the fed, so why not address the real problems with these agencies instead of creating another one? are we creating another agency or just another problem? one lesson that we learned is that bigger, uncoordinated government does not work when it comes to protecting consumers and regulating football institutions -- financial institutions. instead, it only creates more cracks, confusion and costs for
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the consumer. and what's the cost to the new bureaucracy? the new agency has the authority to level fees on consumers and businesses which amount to more indirect taxes. most of these folks didn't create the financial crisis. did walmart and our local 100-year-old community banks, churches or your plumber who gives you a payment plan create the mess? no. but all could find themselves regulated and taxed by this new agency. another victim of this new bureaucracy is consumer choice. the agency can tell businesses what service products that they can offer certain consumers, and it can make financial decisions for american families which really is an insult to the majority of americans who act responsibly with their finances. with the right information, proper transparency and full disclosures, families can and do make their own financial
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decisions. they don't need big brother to do it for them. instead, congress and this administration need to go back to the drawing board, make tough choices and empower consumers with stronger, smarter financial regulations. consumers should be the top priority of banking regulators who should also monitor the safety and soundness of financial institutions and not issue conflicting regulatory mandates. that's what our gop plan does, it also protects consumers against fraud and gives consumers the tools to make the informed decisions or file complaints against fraudsters and scam artists. we don't need a band-aid. consumer financial agency, that's a facade for reform. we do need to end bailouts and end government practices of picking winners and losers and restore market discipline. we need reform, we need smart, clear, and strong regulations to get our financial system back on track so that our economy can grow businesses that can create
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desperately-needed jobs and american families can secure credit. now i'd like to introduce representative shelley cap toe, the ranking member on the housing subcommittee of the financial services. mr. chairman. >> thank you, judy, and thank you all for being here today. what we're talking about of course, is our ideas on financial reform. my segment will be what about when these big firms are on the verge of collapse? what is your idea? well, i think one thing we know is that the bailout of failed firms that has become almost second nature is not the direction that we want to go. we have seen our government reward poor decision making, absorb enormous losses and then stick taxpayers with the bill with our constituents facing severe bailout fatigue, regulatory reform will finally put an end to this mentality of
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the government picking wincers and losers. yet the president's reform, i think, will actually institutionalize this concept only guaranteeing more bailouts in the future. firms must face the consequences of their decisions. we've called for a new chapter of the bankruptcy code that would be more suitable for unwinding, failed firms. moreover, the certainty provided by a firm commitment to the no more bailouts will force banks and financial entities to account for their decisions. with a new chapter of the bankruptcy code, we can bring technical and specialized expertise to the table to help unwind these firms. special classes already exist in bankruptcy for farmers, municipalities and railroads. most importantly, there will be no many question of waiting for government bailout. is it time for certainty in the marketplace? because taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for decisions made on wall street or elsewhere. and our next speaker is jeb
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hensarling from texas. >> it was almost one year ago that the emergency economic stabilization act that created t.a.r.p. was passed into law. and we're not here to debate the impact of that legislation one year ago. we are here to debate what that legislation means today. legislation which was designed to be emergency legislation to deal with financial stability under this administration has now become a $700 billion revolving bailout fund to advance the political, social, and economic agenda of the administration. the administration, and the previous administration, crossed the line when they first gave funds to gm and chrysler. if they are defined as financial institutions, what fortune 500
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company is not defined as a financial institution? we now have a test if you can garner a headline, you can garner a bailout. that is where t.a.r.p. is today. this administration crossed another line when they put forth a plan leveraging t.a.r.p. funds that gave a sweetheart deal to their political allies in the united autoworkers at the expense of investors including farmers, ranchers and pipe fitters in the fifth congressional district of texas who invested tens of thousands in gm bonds for their 401(k). they ended up with pennies on the dollar, and the uaw ends up earning chrysler and getting a better deal than senior secured creditors and those who were equal to them under our bankruptcy code. now all of a sudden investors have to calculate political risk in the united states of america as they do in third world countries.
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fearful that their property can be confiscated. republicans want to use the voluntary capital of investors to grow our economy, not the involuntary capital of taxpayers which is part of the t.a.r.p. program. fiat. fiat ended up with 20 percent of chrysler, up to 35 percent not being owed one dime, not having invested one dime. if they will produce green cars in the years to come. now, we know the president is serious about his global warming agenda, but what fiat and producing green car cans has to do with financial stability is beyond me and is beyond those who are behind me. already we know that there's $700 billion allocated to the t.a.r.p., and the cbo has estimated that the taxpayer will lose at least 50 cents on the dollar. the democrats' capital markets reform legislation functionally, functionally insures that we will have t.a.r.p. for years to
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come, it will cost taxpayers billions of dollars, it will allow the picking of winners and losers, it will politicize our economy, and that's why we need the republican alternative that ends us as a bailout nation and makes sure that risk is lessened by market competition and not incompetent market fiat. next, i am proud to introduce the vice ranking member of the financial services committee, the gentleman from texas, randy. >> thank you, jeb. you know, in the past year we have seen unprecedented if not historical intervention by the federal government into our financial markets. now it's time for government to start focusing on its exit strategy and stop bailing out more entities. we agreed with president obama that there is some reform needed in our system today, and we need to learn some of the lessons
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from what has happened over the past years, but we also think our reform plan is a better plan for the taxpayers and much better for the economy. our reform plan puts the taxpayers first and aims to insure that there are no more bailouts. the president's plan puts the federal government in the permanent bailout business, and that's not good for the taxpayers or the american people. identifying entities as specifically as significant as the president's plan does puts the government back into picking winners and losers. it unlevels the playing field. the other thing that it does is it concentrates way too much power into the federal reserve. when you check the box for an entity to be systemically risky, you say to the rest of the world this is an entity that will not fail. taxpayers, get your checkbooks out because you're going to have to write a big check. instead our plan sets up a
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council, the market stability and capital add adequacy board,t will produce coordination between regulators and require them to look across the financial entities, close the gaps, review the capital requirements and make sure that these entities are holding a sufficient amount of capital. the current federal reserve chairman and the two previous federal reserve chairmen all say problems today could have been avoided if these entities had been adequately capitalized. instead, they were not being asked to put up the amount of capital required for the risks they were engaging in. the taxpayers want and deserve accountability and responsibility for their regulators. our plan says the financial regulators need to be more account and do a better job. we don't need more regulations, we need regulators doing a better job. setting up the fed is the too-big-to-fail regulator does nothing to hold those individual functional regulators
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accountable. rather than more bailouts and more bureaucracy, we need more taxpayer prediction, and that's the reason the republican plan holds to the market principles, consolidates the regulatory process, but also sends a clear signal to the regulators, you need to do your job, and we do not need to set up a situation where the american taxpayers are being put at risk again to bail out people who make bad choices. it's my pleasure to introduce the gentleman from california, mr. royce. >> thank you, randy. i'm congressman ed royce from orange crkts california. if you were to ask economists what created this fiscal calamity, the first thing they would point to is the federal reserve and other central banks who over a period of four years set interest rates at a negative level, negative real interest rates. and so that created a great deal of ballooning in the economy, especially in the housing
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sector. why so much in the housing sector? well, for a couple of reasons. one, regulators and congress allowed overleveraging in that sector. but specifically one of the things we did in congress and it's never comfortable for members of this institution to look back at the role they played, but one of the things we did in 1992 was to pass the gse act. and as a consequence of that legislation we allowed government-sponsored enterprises to overleverage at a ratio of 100 to 1 and specifically in exchange for the goals that we set in congress, they were supposed to in their portfolio hold one-half of those assets in subprime loans. that's one-half of 1.5 or 1.6 trillion dollars leveraged 100 to 1. now, the consequences of that, of course, eventually was that
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first the federal reserve came to congress and warned us in 2004 that we faced a systemic risk throughout the entire financial system that there would be a collapse. and congress decided not to take action, not in that year or any of the following years. as a matter of fact, i remember some of the debates on this, and i remember barney frank who's now chairman of the committee saying when it comes to regulating fannie and freddie for safety and soundness like we do banks and thrifts, i don't want to do that because when it comes to affordable housing, i'm willing to roll the dice a little bit on risk for affordable housing. a decision was made by congress to allow this type of overleveraging, and the cost to the taxpayers could accrue to about 400 billion, the cost for the system in terms of housing, the losses, are over a trillion. so what i'm sharing with you is that it was government intervention in the economy and
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subsequently the thing that concerns me is that a lot of this debt, a lot of this overwe'vage has been transferred now on to the government, onto the taxpayers going forward. and what we see is a compounding of that, of that initiative of continuing, continued government intervention into the economy. one of the other concerns i have here is exactly what led to the problem with fannie mae and freddie mac, and that is the inability of a regulator who gets trumped by, well, in this case you had hud, and hud was in charge of the mission. so you have bifurcated regulation, the same type of thing we could end up if we listen to the concerns of the current safety and soundness regulators who are opposed to this consumer financial protection agency. what they're worried about is dueling regulators who bifurcate that regulation and do what hud
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did with respect to fannie and freddie which is to say, no. we trump safety and soundstnd because we have this mission requirement. to get subprime lending up in the united states, we have to have a portfolio 50 percent subprime loans, therefore, we're not going to look at safety and soundness, we're going to look at this mission because it trumps safety and soundness. so when we look at this cfpc, cfba, this new agency that's being advanced and we look at why the regulators are concerned about it, the reason they're concerned in my mind and listening to them and we have an opportunity on monday nights to go here as members of congress and sit down with regulators and former regulators to try to over dinner figure out how we got into this mess, what i'm reporting to you is that their concern is that if we walk down this road, we're going to replay the problem, these types of problems that we saw with the
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government-sponsored enterprises. and given the massive losses that were created there, anytime you try to short circuit the market and you believe the members of congress can achieve a goal just by mandating that goal or you give a regulator a power to trump safety and soundness, at the end of the day you risk the type of meltdown that we saw in housing, and i just have to go back to those conversations in 2004. it turns out that the federal reserve were exactly right. what they warned about, the meltdown that would occur in housing if we did not heed their advice to for congress to step in and pass the regulatory ability for the regulator to intervene for systemic risk at that time, they said this would, this would lead to a potential systemic risk for the entire financial system. i think it's very, very clear that we should back off of this approach and begin to listen to
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the good advice that's been given to us in the past by the regulators and with respect to the fed the advice they gave us about systemic risk. thank you very much. >> we have one mr. speaker and then we'll take questions. >> thanks, spencer. my name's tom fite, i represent the sixth district of georgia, and i think you can tell the knowledge, the passion, and the common sense that my colleagues bring forward on what is really a challenging issue. as a physician i know in order to effectively treat a problem you've got to make the right diagnosis, and in this effort the democrats and the president have failed. in fact, some might suggest that they are about to commit malpractice. now, while they have indicted capitalism, it was instead the implicit promise of the tax dollars would serve as the financial system as a backstop which distorted our market system. it became an explicit promise
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shortly thereafter. this too big to fail guarantee led to a recklessness from the very first bad loan all the way to the restructuring process. so at the heart of our solution, positive solution, is the true separation of tax dollars and private risk. we must not continue to privatize, reward, and socialize risk. so our plan, our positive plan creates a new legal process with the orderly winding down of in-- insolvent firms. in short, no more bailouts. this new legal process will insure that technical and specialized expertise is applied to these complex institutions and all nonfinancial firms would be summit to the same laws. unfortunately, the process of the president's plan will insure more bailouts. his proposal would codify, would put into law the misguiding
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policy that allowed the bailouts of aig, bear stearns and others. so while the president lectures the financial industry it is, in fact, he who has not learned the lessons of the last year. and not until we stop enabling financial recklessness with a taxpayer license will we see the financial system acting with the discipline and the responsibility that we all seek. our proposal is a positive solution, i'm proud to stand with my colleagues on the financial services committee who put forward a solution that is based in fundamental economic principle and fundamental american principles. i'm pleased to yield back to senator bachus. >> thank you for those thoughtful remarks and all our members. we're going to take questions at this time, and i'll refer those questions to different members.
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>> [inaudible] thomas green, the name of an antitrust lawyer who's gone after companies like microsoft, and the tobacco industry. i don't know if you're familiar with him, wonder if you'd like to comment on that selection. >> well, he's from california. [laughter] ed, i don't know if -- you know, we think the proof will be in going forward. but we do need to -- [inaudible] you know, yesterday there was a focus on that lehman caused all this because we didn't bail out lehman. well, in fact we bailed out bear stearns and a succession of companies prior to that including indy mac and more importantly fannie and freddie.
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and there were several that were bailed out, and it obviously did not prevent the worst crisis. i think there was no accident that the president chose lehman which was perhaps the only major financial corporation that wasn't bailed out, and i think that fits in with his message, but i think it's the wrong message. i wish he'd picked fannie or freddie or general motors. >> i serve on the congressional oversight panel which has looked into this issue. as far as the historical inquiry panel or commission, clearly we're disappointed that it's rigged in favor of the democrats. if it was going to be a more serious effort in historical inquiry, i think it would be balanced, so i suppose we go in here with very high hopes and very low expectations. but i think the gentleman from
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california, mr. royce, did an excellent job of laying out, again, how the premise that says somehow deregulation led us here is simply incorrect. it wasn't deregulation, it was dumb regulation. and with the exception of congress resisting any regulation over their financial frankensteins create inside a government laboratory, freddie and fannie, you really can't point to any lack of regulatory authority that could have kept us from the economic crisis. you can say regulators were incompetent, you can say they were dumb, you can say they were simply mistaken, but you cannot say they lacked the authority with the exception of fannie and freddie which, as the gentleman from california said, were begin afford -- given affordable housing goals, essentially told to go out and insure that money was lent to people who could not afford to pay it back. the whole system bought in
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because the government cajoled and mandated that action, and the rest is history, and i would hope that the panel would conclude likewise. ..
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>> are you going to introduce legislation, are you talking to congress and frank about it? >> we really have urged congressman frank and administration to take out our proposal, but we wanted to communicate once again to the american people that we do have an alternative and we think it is a sound alternative. talking about what precipitated this, we had gaps in the regulation. and we addressed that.
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that's not really been addressed. we also had as almost every member referred to, is we've had lack of enforcement. there were capital requirements. there were safety and sound requirements that were obviously needed with unregulated institutions, gaps and regulations, or there was lack. and i just made of wood be the poster child of that. is there was the loss. and i think before you start creating more laws and more agency you have to address, enforcing the laws that we have on the book. we quite frankly did have a new product, you know, credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligation, things of that nature, securitization, which was a good thing gone to the extreme. and i'm sure that our regulators were up to the task or had the expertise to regulate those new
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products. and we addressed that. >> you are talking about 2004 when congress sort of dropped the ball. republicans were in charge of congress at that point, and the regulatory agencies were ahead of republicans at that point. >> right. >> have republicans learned lessons from this? why should the american people at this point listen to you guys? >> chuck hagel and the senate carried the bill for the republicans and got it out of committee and onto the floor. it was chris dodd to approach a. and were talking specifically about the bill, which would have allowed the gse to be regulated for systemic risk. it was actually carried out the request of the federal reserve, and the debate really was a debate over whether or not we would allow the fed to
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authority, orwell the regulators to do with the fed had requested. in this case, they were looking at, they quoted at 100-1, and they were saying because of this overleveraged, we face a situation where it wasn't just a systemic risk to our financial system. it was a worldwide systemic risk. so in point of fact, it was the republicans in the senate who supported that position. it was the democrats who opposed over on the outside, i carried that a minute on the house floor. but it was in the senate that the major effort was made. and the reason i bring this up now is because it was an exact example of bifurcated regulation, you see. and if we do this again, and we set up two competing agencies, especially in the face of the concerns that the safety and
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soundness regulator's themselves have raised, then i think we risk going through the same mistake. given the losses that we faced in housing and giving what a disservice it was, especially for people who were really stretching to try to unveil themselves of these new laws. you know, congress had leveraged this down to 3% down or 0% down for these loans which have traditionally been 20%. we were able to do that. at the end of the day we did no favors for those people, because by and large they lost their homes. so what i'm saying here is that we are failing to learn the very real lessons that economists are pointing to as examples of misguided government intervention into the economy. >> question on the resolution trust, or resolution approach. the way i understand it is that it would, the way the
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administration proposal has to do with pay, large institutions would pay after the fact of an insolvent omran taubensee defund pang of counterparties as part of their payments so that they wouldn't have a systemic impact. then there is a lot of effort among administration officials that would have did posit insurance pool that would pay in advance, and that would go to pay off. so the administration argues this is not more bail outs with the resolution of 40. i just wanted to see if you could respond to this, that this would not be taxpayer funds and as with the funds from these large institutions that would supposedly pay for the resolution so they don't cause collateral damage. second, if you could talk about the trust, aig trust if there's any support for that and why that is important. >> on the resolution authority, we look at this very carefully
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and felt that the best way to instill the most transparency and the most accountability was to use the system of justice set up to the bankruptcy courts by creating a special class of bankruptcy for these financial institutions. and if you look at the fdic as an insurer, we just passed a piece of legislation that upped the ability for the fdic to go to, what was it, 500. that is the implicit, that is the federal government taxpayers stepping up to the plate again to get a backstop to this. and i would like to just -- jeffrey lacher was the president of the richmond federal reserve actually made some comment on this yesterday, and i'm going to read a couple of quotes because he says, and it is right on target, to where our plan i think addresses this issue much
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better. he says if not carefully crafted, establishing a procedure for the government to take over and wind down failed big financial firms without forcing it into bankruptcy could create new moral hazard that could weaken market discipline, and could lead to more -- could lead to more, not less volatility. and he says that we would be expanding government protection and regulation if we went the way the president wanted to go. and he feels that it would be better placing greater reliance on market-based incentives for prudent risk management. i think that is sort of the foundation of what we think a special class of bankruptcy created for these particular institutes cashback institutions with the expertise that would come along with that bank of the court what i think become, be more transparent, more accountable and to take it out of the realm of the taxpayers and government dollars.
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>> one more question. >> on the trust, why is that, the aig trust. >> are you talking about the legislation. >> the specific offer. >> it would be aig, general motors would be covered. we think that we ought to wind down the government ownership of these corporations, that that's not what the american people want. and that's the government taking equity interest in companies and managing them. and i think the poster child there is general motors. which i think it has created problems that will continue to see. it is almost as if you're going to repeat the mistakes of fannie and freddie once again. >> derivatives, you've been hearing from end users about problems with the obama plan. what would your proposal do to
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help? >> basically, the derivatives concept is not part of his initial plan. we are working through that at the acme add-on financial services, we are waiting for the majority offer something up. unfortunately, even though we passed an initial proposal in actuating back earlier in the year, the concept that chairman frank seemed to be working on are slipping. most really i understand, perhaps he has said that perhaps nothing needs to occur, and as late as december. we will see. but from the republican perspective, we need to be sure so as to not up in an industry that is so important to spreading out risk, to making things more affordable from the business perspective. that is the challenge. >> the end-users are saying oh, my goodness. you mean they're going to have the ability to basically create these whatever kind of margin
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account? viewpoint that the ability to set the substantial capital accounts. in effect, their fear is that we will have regulators who will not understand the industry, the business, that will have political pressure from the white house directing those regulators and if you will create a situation where it will be impossible for energy companies or ag company or any other business to be able to use these markets to protect themselves financially in the future. it's kind of ironic that, of course, the chief of staff at the white house has some extent in dealing with these commodity issues. >> i think will go in after that and wrap up. is just happy because a lot of the transactions whether it is oil and gas or a culture that go on are buried unique in nature. we're not saying you should have more oversight, not more tranthirty. we agree with a. we need to get that fine line down the middle and not be distracted in the name of doing something for the sake of doing something. >> thank you.
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[inaudible conversations] >> republican committee leaders on capitol hill like it on c-span2. president obama was scheduled to speak out about this time at 1:40 p.m. eastern to the afl-cio convention in pittsburgh. it turned that he began his speech earlier than anticipated. about 20, 25 minutes ago. and we have recorded that event. we will show it to you later in our program schedule, and you can watch it at our website, c-span.org. now on c-span2 while we wait for the senator return at 2:15 p.m. from their weekly party lunches, a look at trade with china from today's "washington journal." >> our guest nicholas lardy, senior fellow at peterson institute for international economics. thanks for being with us. we are here to talk about this
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trade issue with china right now. has been all over the news, the entire airport issue. first of all, refreshed our memory about what happened last friday, what president obama decided to do. >> guest: president obama, an independent government body that looks into the case that was brought by the steelworkers union complaining of the substantial increase in imports of chinese tires over the last few years. he didn't take a full recommendation but he did but taras on for three years. that is a slightly lower level than the commission had recommended. >> host: he was able to do so because of the specific ability countries have to deal with china in that way. the law that allows that specifically with china. >> guest: that i. when china came into the world trade organization in 2001 and agree to a provision that no other country has ever agreed to which allows the united states and the other members of the wto to put on restrictions on chinese goods if there is a
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surge, sales of chinese goods into a country like the united states. they key thing is, this is called a safeguard. in the standard safeguard case, the petitioner has to prove injury to the domestic industry as a result of the surge. for this particular provision, you don't have to prove any injury. all you have to do a show market disruption, which is shown by a big increase in imports. >> host: why was that a post on china and why did they agree to it? >> guest: it was imposed on china because the united states and other countries insisted that we had this extra tool to deal with china. in part, the worry was china is not completely a market economy yet. there might be, the government might have the ability and we need to have an extra tool to respond. the chinese agreed quite frankly because they didn't have much choice. the chinese premier at the time very much wanted china to become a member of the world trade organization. he was trying to use membership
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as a lever for promoting domestic economic reform in china. so he agreed to this provision. a number of other provisions which are unique to china. >> host: this is the first time that an american president, an activist? >> guest: this is a first time this provision has been used. it has been available since 2001 when china became a member. i think i quite frankly agree to it hoping that it would never be invoked and it has not been invoked up until now. so one of the recent chinese have reacted fairly surely is their disappointment that this provision is actually now being used. also that year that could apply to a lot of other products. this might be opening wedge. >> host: can you put this in context for us? how much trade we do with china and how strong are our terrace versus theirs? >> guest: we do a very substantial amount of trade. we are the largest single export market for china. so the bilateral trade volumes are any hundred and billions of dollars. both countries have relatively
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low terrace. china's carrots were brought down as a consequent of its negotiation to come into the world trade organization. the united states has had relatively low terrace for quite a number of years. we are talking average care of levels of under 10%. for example, tires were subject to a 4% care of before this action was taken. now they are adding another 35 percent in the first year, so on tires will be close to 40%. it will be a prohibited tear. now tiredly come in from china once this takes effect which is almost immediately. >> host: you can join the conversation we're talking about. u.s.-china trade with nicholas lardy. democrats line. republicans and independents can call-in. we are also on twitter, c-span and our e-mail address. let's go to our first caller for
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the segment. on the democrats line calling from milton, delaware. commack hello. good morning. i'm calling in reference to the import problems that we are having your. it has to do with the 1938 act that wherein coming into the united states level these penalties against imports that is detrimental to the united states. they are not doing that. so what is happening is that most shipments or imports are brain but into this country at a vast rate. they are assisted by the government and other countries, the same thing. the 1930s act used to love about to bring it back on a basis that was legal or beneficial to the united states or you are not doing that. so you have a falling goods coming in. the proper comedy outside investors are making.
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it does not come back to this country as revenue. it goes elsewhere. >> guest: is true that this action has been taken under a different provision. it's called a safeguard provision with section 421. it is not the countervailing provision that the questioner mentioned. and it is directed against these so far, it is directed against single product tires instead of across the board. this is a narrowly focused trade action that was taken by the present friday night. >> host: let's look at this piece in the "washington post" today. sparks were in a bitter u.s. the prospect of a trade war with china fueled fears of a wider fears. "traders fretted that the 35% tariffs might prompt china to
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send a sign of disapproval by paring purchases of u.s. government bonds. and a chorus of economists and climate activists fretted that the president's action might undercut u.s.-china climate talks and poison relations in a few weeks before the g what might the fallout before this decision? >> guest: well, it could be quite substantial as i said. the chinese are quite upset this provision has been used for the first time. they key thing is that they are taking a lot of domestic criticism over this asking the question why did our government signed up for what they see as a discriminatory provision, no other country has agreed to this. and what are you going to do about it. so the pressure domestically, politically is to take some strong countervailing retaliatory action. so for the chinese government has avoided doing that. they have talked about putting, investigating the possibility of putting some restrictions on chicken and auto parts but they haven't actually done anything
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yet. the other good piece of evidence is of course they have filed a complaint with the wto about the u.s. action. so it will be subject to some review within the wto, a process that will take some time and hopefully allow pressure to try to diffuse within china so it becomes a more manageable issue. if that doesn't happen, that could be harder for the chinese to compromise in the dohar round negotiations. they might be less willing to work with us on some of the key international economic issues. they might be less willing to work with us on iran, north korea and so forth. the cost could be hi. the other thing to keep in mind is that u.s.-china relations are relatively good state leading up to this, this case here and so i think we have a reservoir of goodwill to draw on, relationship is in a very strong position. and hopefully that will provide enough ballast to get us through this without a trade war and without high costs and the
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noneconomic areas, the strategic areas, including climate change. >> host: you mention chicken and the otto industry. why are those two potential targets? >> guest: i think those are potential interest in the united states that if they go in these areas, it would be a cost to the u.s. >> host: let's go to lie on the independence line. long as going from jacksonville, florida. good morning. >> caller: yes, good morning. the thing that really upsets me about our things, vietnam, korea and soldiers that died, they died in vain because our government told us at that time we were fighting communism. now communism country controls most of our debt. thank you very much. >> guest: well, it is true. we borrow a lot of money from china. our government borrows a lot of money from china, and china is the world biggest creditor countries so we do have this
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debtor creditor relationship, which complicate the equation. a chinese however did not force us to bar all of this money. we bought this on by the result of our own spending habits, and as long as a country we're not saving very much and we want to invest in order to grow the economy. we have to borrow to finance that. and we've are to finance a lot of excess consumption. so with households saving little or nothing in the run up to the crisis and the government typically running a deficit, business savings were not enough to finance anything we needed to do. so we had to borrow. so we may not like the position we're in, but we brought it on ourselves. >> host: is there much conversation in washington about trying to reduce that? is that in this ghostwriter given all the other financial issues? >> guest: it hasn't been widely noticed, but our need to borrow abroad has been falling over the last couple of years. card peak need to bar was
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actually back in 2006. that's what our extra deficit hit a peak and that we had financed by borrowing. and has come down substantially in 2007, 2008. it will come down further this year. so we are still borrowing. we are still going deeper in debt but not as fast a pace as we were two or three years ago. thank you klesko to kathy called other republicans lined from new york state. >> caller: good morning. we've had a trade imbalance for a long, long time. first with japan and now with china. my biggest concern is china now has been buying a lot of our u.s. treasuries, our securities. and this is to shore up our economy. federal government hasn't done much for this trade imbalance. what is going to be the long-term effect? and i think of it as
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loansharking, with leveraging political leveraging in congress. on going to be able to do what we need to do if we don't have so much money? >> guest: well, this is a complicated question. and i'm not sure i agree that it is loansharking. china is not very, very much on most of the treasury obligations that they have purchased or they are getting one or 2 percent at the most. so they're holding a lot of our debt, but they are not earning very much. as to whether or not they gain leverage over us, it is a very complicated picture. potentially have leverage over us, but to exercise that leverage they would have to start selling those securities. that would bring down the price and they would take a very large loss. to have such a huge stock of these assets, they could sell them all overnight once they began to sell, prices would fall and they would suffer very, very substantial losses. so it's very unlikely that they
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will sell those assets. and even, they have never threatened to sell. some domestic critics of the chinese government have said they should sell them, but that hasn't happened. i think it is unlikely to happen because it's shooting yourself in the foot kind of situation to impose some costs of the united states they would have to endure very substantial costs themselves. doesn't mean it's impossible, that might happen but i think it's pretty unlikely. >> host: the financial times today references what you have mentioned that beijing has launched an investigation into whether u.s. poultry and car parts were being unfairly dumped in the chinese market. chinese market. with the financial it -- what "the financial times" notes is that trade experts and lawyers say the episode does show the increasingly sophisticated legal strategies used by beijing, and
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it tries to limit the economic damage. is that is this something you have observed as well? >> guest: i think it is a fair assessment. china does want to play by the rules for the most part but they cut a few corners occasionally. most countries do from time to time. their basic goal is to play by the rules, so they are filing a complaint to see what recourse they have in the legal process. they are not doing a unilateral retaliation immediately imposing some substantial restrictions on u.s. exports to china. they couldn't do that legally. they would be in violation of the wto obligation. so they could have an investigation into car parts and chicken and determine whether or not they have a possibility of legally doing this. but this is a process that will take some months to investigate, and that means it's very unlikely we are going to have a very, very rapidly escalating trade war because china is refraining from taking unilateral action that would be inconsistent with its obligations try to democrats
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line from oakland, michigan. >> caller: good morning. not too long ago on the david hartman show, i heard a gentleman speaking about tariffs and how, i can't remember whether it was in the '30s or earlier, that the united states tariffs on things really were a sustained support of our budget. and so therefore we didn't have to go into debt as much. now, my contention is by and made in america. the comptroller, david walker, who just retired about a year or so ago, i don't know if he works, you are the pedersen grew. are you involved with them? >> guest: he is winning what is called the pedersen foundation, and i'm working at an organization called the peterson institute for international economics. so their separate organization. tranforty was obvious a brilliant man and always enjoyed seeing him on c-span.
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one thing he said was he said our pentagon books were unauditable. our defense budget is so huge it is much more than 10 times all the countries beneath us. we are spending money on defense that could be spent here. i personally am not afraid of anybody coming in hurting america. i say that as a mother of a 9/11 person, and i think we have to get our house in order. i remember one time, not too long ago, bill clinton said how do you treat china? he said in the morning, you go and you say would you buy some of our debt or our bonds. and in the afternoon you are expected to go there and say hey, we don't like what you are doing. you can do business that way.
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>> guest: i guess i very much agree with the premise of your question, which is would be in a much stronger position if our own house was in order and certainly there is a physical dimension of that is quite important. we are running massive deficits. our government debt is skyrocketing. it is a major burden on future generations, and it is a very risky given the levels that we are now headed towards. i certainly agree with you that a top priority of our government should be to bring our debt down, either by reducing government expenditures or raising taxes. of course, those two alternatives are very frequently unpopular. people in general agree we don't want to have such a big debt, but when you say we will raise taxes and/or to have a smaller debt, the support for moving in that direction tends to erode very rapidly. is a dilemma for us i think. >> host: our guess is a senior fellow at the peterson institute for international economics. he has two books published last
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year and china, the ballot sheet in 2006. let's go to jacqui on independent line in eastlake, ohio. good morning, jackie. >> caller: good morning. we have a very huge deficit with china over the last 10 years and it is pushing us towards a $2 trillion. this along with the trade deficits with mexico, japan, canada, and some other european countries have caused the downgrading of our jobs and the loss of revenue, tax revenue that we have, therefore causing large deficit here in our country. everyone keeps talking about we've got to treat china with kid gloves. however, china has taken intellectual properties from us. they spy on us, and they have
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been caught several times. and we sit on our hands and do nothing because our corporate structure in this country has so eroded, our ability to manufacture our ability to do -- to do for our own country because of their constant coupling with china over manufacturing. >> guest: well, we do face competition from china and other countries in manufacturing but i think it is also very useful to keep in mind that if you look at the united states manufacturing position over all, we are still a very strong manufacturing country. our share of global manufacturing output is about 25%. it is far and away the largest of any country in the world. and most importantly, that share
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has not declined significantly over the last decade or so. in other words, we are holding our own in manufacturing. most people don't appreciate that because the headlines go to industries that are shrieking or facing difficulties or suffering from competition. and new industries that are emerging that are keeping our overall manufacturing position so strong get much less coverage. the average american does not understand that the u.s. share of global manufacturing output has been relatively stable over the last decade or so. and that we are in a very, very strong position, the nature of the job is changing. the jobs that existed 10 years ago don't necessarily exist today, but we are still number one in global manufacturing by a very, very wide margin. >> host: who has held by president obama's decision on friday? >> guest: well, i think this is one of the least under its good aspect of this case. i don't think anyone is going to be helped by his decision. consumers are sure not going to be hell because in the short run
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they will pay more for the kinds of tires that we use to import from china. i think it's very unlikely this action will create very many jobs because, remember, this unique safeguard provision applies only to china. so there will be no restriction on tire imports coming from mexico, brazil, india, and a number of other potential suppliers. they may not be able to ramp up their production rapidly overnight, but in a relatively short period of time i would expect to see tire imports from those countries increasing. and tire imports from those countries will be subject to the 4% arabs that existed and continues to exist for all suppliers except for china. so i think it is very unlikely that a steelworkers union is going to get a lot of jobs. so from an economic point of view, the president's decision is completely irrational. there are going to be very little games and consumers are going to pay more. so it's across the economy as a whole it is a big, big loss.
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>> host: and u.s.a. today reporter david lynch writes more than 5000 workers in u.s. tire plant have lost their jobs since 2004 amid a flood of imported tires. have lost jobs since 2004. about 31,000 production jobs remain. last year china shipped to the u.s. auto tires and trends worth $2 billion, more than triple 2004's $593 million. the president is addressing the afl-cio do you think the timing of this was tied into that or was the timing just because of the timeline of events? >> guest: i think the timing is a coincidence, but the reason the unions are supporting his decision, of course, if they help to set a precedent so when they bring other cases the president might react a parallel fashion and provide some production for a much broader range of goods. that is the opening way, which issue that imagined as a possibility at the beginning of
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the program. >> host: plus what you've read on the republican slime calling from toledo, ohio,. >> caller: good morning. my name is fred. i was calling about the terrible on tires. i think what a lot of people neglect to see, the chinese don't even make a quality screwdriver. approximately one year ago there was a problem with chinese drywall that was produced with all kinds of contamination. those people that regaled down in florida and down south, was the hurricanes hit, they had to redo everything because all of the contaminated chinese drywall that they bought. my concern is the fact that they can't even make a screwdriver. we're going to be risking our lives on chinese tires. i think that is the biggest
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problem. everybody wants something cheap. >> guest: well, the chinese are supplied what we would have to call the low-end of the tire market, the less expected lower quality tires. the u.s. is still a very strong position in higher quality products that are manufactured in the united states. the chinese are going after a certain segment of the market here and they've been relatively successful at the video now supplying about 15% or even a little bit more of the tire market. there is a demand for tires of that type, and, you know, you or i or other people might decry that but not everyone is going to go out and buy the most expensive tire available because they think it is safer. i think the reality is we support consumer choice, the tires of course are regulated by usac agency. so they have to meet certain minimal standards. the only way to address this would be to change the standards under which tires could be sold in this country. is not really a question of country of origin but the quality, the characteristics of
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the product itself. and that could be changed and could be raised to address the concern that you have. i think the concern that some people have on the safety side that you didn't mention is that if tire prices particularly at the low-end go up, and other people will not be in a position to replace their tires when they should. and they may drive much longer on worn-out tires, which present a safety hazard records of whether they are rigidly high quality tires or low-quality tires if you're driven excess of miles when the tread is worn out and so forth. there is potentially a safety aspect from this action. >> host: had human rights issues and free speech were censorship in china played into our trade with them. >> guest: these issues are very important to the united states and have been for decades and have been an important part of the relationship over all. but for the most part we have dealt with the human rights free speech and so forth issues on a
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parallel track, not linked closely to economic issues. that is particularly true since china came into the world trade organization. e earlier, one of the things we had to give them d most-favored-nation status are now overcall normal trade status that we used to redo that on an annual basis and had to be passed in congress. some congressmen would vote against that because they didn't like other things the chinese were doing, how they operated and i bet or minority areas, human rights issue more generally. but that tool, if you will, that approach doesn't apply anymore because we have given china a normal trading status on a permanent bases. congress doesn't get a chance to vote on this every year. >> host: of kerry calling from california on the democrats like. i cometary. >> caller: grigori. please don't cut me off. i just wanted to say that nafta has been very harmful to the united states.
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is the american citizen, individual workers. i also want to say that the exodus of jobs and the deficit, trade deficit with china, even though we might be one of china's larger --'s largest exporters and what have you, doesn't touch the amount of the deficit that we have with them. so it is still in balance. i want to say that with all our corporations going overseas with the trade and nafta, they get paid to go overseas. to send the product back to us, it is a lose-lose situation. from wall street to health care to the trade is making the united states a third class world country. >> guest: well, again, yes, some jobs are going overseas but our share of global manufacturing
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remains very high. one of the reasons is the high growth of productivity. we are doing very well in the high end of manufacturing of highly skilled jobs. those other jobs that will pay the high wages that we need in this country to support our standard of living. and i don't think in the long run we will be served by protecting low-wage jobs, that don't provide the standard of living at the u.s. level. so we have to continue to move up the technology ladder. we have to continue to move up the skill ladder would have to try to improve our educational system so we can be at or near the top of the food chain, and not protect low-wage, unskilled jobs. we shouldn't really be striving to compete with china which has a huge pool of unskilled workers who work for much, much lower wages than we have. we have to compete at the high-end of the market with more skill, more education, and so
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forth. that is the way we maintain our standard of living. >> host: the "washington post" has a list of top items exported to china. states. the top u.s. expert to china is electrical machinery at $11.4 million. machinery, miscellaneous grain, seed, freuit. aircraft, then plastics. the lecture, machinery, a $11 billion going to china. china to the u.s., a big difference there. >> guest: a huge difference. and it really reflects the fact that china has become the producer or the assembler of last at the last eight of the production process. china for example, today makes about 90 percent of all the world notebook computers. they are made entirely by
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taiwanese companies that have moved to china to be able to reduce their production costs to respond to the demand of american companies like dell and so forth that are the big, that are the brands we know. those parts are all being produced in china by taiwanese companies. we used to buy them from taiwan. now we are by given china. we used by some of them from malaysia or other places that are not coming from china. stakeout on china's trade again. this is true for a very broad range of consumer electronics, all the ipod and iphone's and things like that are being made under contract in china. most of the high-value added content does not originate in china but it is taken to china and a sale in the final product that we didn't buy in such large quantities. because of our insatiable or seemingly insatiable demand for various kinds of electronic toys. >> host: our next caller is very on independent line in tampa, florida,. >> caller: how are you doing, sir?
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>> guest: good. >> caller: i need to get you to answer, i have like three questions i will make it quick. in regards to us exporting to china, my basic problem with that is tires i don't mind about, but it is a machinery, computers and technology that they tend to take over their and the engineers make it a little better and sell it at a cheaper price. so that's my first question. what do you think about that? my second question is, what do they tend to do as far as trying to keeping their yan -- yen so low. the united states is sending money abroad. let me put it like this. monetary system is based on a growth system in which the money is recirculated. 360 degrees. there are a lot of gaps the
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united states money going out through mexico, going out through canada. okay. so to me, that is devaluing the dollar of the united states. what are we going to do about, because printing money is not solving the problem. if you are printing $10,000,000.20 million leaving the country, you just knocking ahead against the wall. >> guest: well, china has signed up to some other provisions -- -- >> we leave this washington to as the senate has reconvene after a break for party lunches. members resuming work on fiscal year 2000 tens spending for transportation and housing programs. lives in a coverage on c-span2 quorum call:
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mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mrs. murray: mr. president, i have seven i ask unanimous consent for the committees to meet during today's session of the senate. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president, i yield the floor.
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i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mrs. boxer: mr. president, i decided to come over here in my capacity as chairman of the environment and public works committee to address a number of coburn amendments that he has either laid down or intends to lay down. and i hope that we can work to defeat those amendments as i understand them and i want to say why. we have a very important relationship with our states when it comes to transportation and highway programs. and we work with them on many aspects of transportation. we have something called the transportation enhancements
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program. it's a t.e. program. it was created in 1991 in the istea bill. and one of the purposes was to encourage investments in many areas that have been overlooked. and i want to -- i want to give you an example of those. since 1992, because of this t.e. program, over $11.5 billion has been available to the states for some very important purposes that deal with safety, that deal with making sure that our highways are kept in a condition we want to see them kept in. and i'll give more examples of the funding. but over that period of time, that $11.5 billion has created 399,000 jobs. let me repeat that. this special program that senator coburn wants to strip,
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and he wants to strip parts of it, is responsible for 399,000 jobs since 1992. and i'm here to say, because i know my friend, senator murray, say grease with me, of all the times not to -- not to visit more job losses on our people, it certainly is now. jobs are key. and the coburn amendment is a jobs killer. now, let me tell you about the various areas that fall under this program that he is taking the ax to. environmental mitigation. this includes projects that address water pollution due to highway run-off. we just read a front-page story in "the new york times" where we see terrible water pollution affecting our children. they had a picture of a child who's been drink water that really has not been tested in
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the right way, according to law. this child has all -- his teeth all have to be capped because his teeth rotted. so we want to make sure that that run-off gets into water waist. also -- waterways. also we hear about wildlife mortality. anyone who has seen the result of a crash between a car and, let's say, a collision with a deer on a road knows this is a horrific situation for all the parties. and it is a matter of life or death for drivers and their passengers. that's what some of this money is used for, and that's what our friend, senator coburn, wants to take the ax to, as far as i understand it. then there are facilities for pedestrians and buy kalists an safety -- bicyclists and safety programs. residents of my state are strong supporters of spending
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transportation funds on bicycle paths. we know that walking an biking are forms of transportation which should not be cut, but, rather, encouraged. other categories of t.e., the transportation enhancements, that is my understanding senator coburn wants to cut, acquisition of seenic easements an scenic history sites including historic battlefield sites. does he think that little of the history of the country that he wants to take an ax to this? scenic or historic highway programs, including the provision of tourist and welcome center facilities. again, tourism is one of the things we need to build up. there are many millions of jobs related to tourism. landscaping and other scenic beautification. and we all know -- we all take pride in our communities. and highway beautification, to
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he me, is a key part of our quality of life. historic preservation, rehabilitation an operation of historic transportation buildings. and we've seen some of those. we've seen them in places as far-flung as new york to places in st. louis, missouri, to san francisco, california. preservation of abandoned railway corders, including conservation an use of the corders. inventory control and removal of outdoor advertising and archaeological planning and research. senator coburn would have us believe that transportation enhancements are low priority projects. but these are investments that put hundreds of thousands of americans to work. these are investments that improve safety, that prevent pollution, that save fuel, and that improve the quality of life for millions of americans.
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and as i understand it, madam chairman, i wonder if we could encage here -- what is the timing of when these amendments would be voted on. could you give me some clear idea of that? mrs. murray: mr. president? mrs. boxer: i'll just yield my time for you. mrs. murray: mr. president, in response to the senator from california, the senator from oklahoma's offered a number of amendments. we're hoping to debate on them this afternoon and vote on them tomorrow morning. mrs. boxer: may i ask then, if i might, through the chair, if -- if the chairman of the subcommittee would allow me to be heard for a minute before we have a vote on any of these amendments that deal with transportation enhancements praments? mrs. murray: mr. president, we will make sure as we put together the order for tomorrow that the senator can be heard before the votes occur. mrs. boxer: thank you very much. i yield the floor. i thank you. mrs. murray: suggest the absence
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of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
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mr. kyla senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. a senator: mr. president, i ask consent to set aside the pending amendments -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. a senator: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. a senator: and now, mr. president, i ask consent to set aside the pending amendments and to call up amendment number 2366 and ask for its consideration. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. the clerk will report the
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amendment. a senator: mr. president, i ask that the amendment -- that the amendment be amended according to the language which is at the desk, adding the words "after march 31, 2008." the presiding officer: the amendment will be called up as modified. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from mississippi, mr. wicker, proposes amendment numbered 2366 to -- mr. wicker: and, mr. president, i ask that the reading be further dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. wicker: thank you, mr. president. i rise today in support of my amendment number 2366, as amended, which i've offered on behalf of millions of law-abiding gun owners across the country. earlier this year, i offered an amendment to the budget that would have limited certain budget opportunities to amtrak unless this federally subsidized agency enacted policies to accommodate passengers' second amendment rights. the amendment that i offered passed by a bipartisan vote of
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63-35 but was not included in the final version of the resolution when is from under conference. therefore, i'm here again on the floor today to try again. in our country today, airline passengers may transport firearms and ammunition in secure, checked baggage when declared during the check-in process. but, on the other hand, amtrak passengers are not permitted to do likewise. this means to sportsmen who would like to use an amtrak train for hunting trips cannot do so because they are not allowed to bring a firearm in checked luggage, something that is done every day at airports across our country. and i want to emphasize that this amendment only deals with secured and checked luggage, as checked baggage on amtrak
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trains. law-abiding gun owners should not be penalized for seeking alternative means of travel. at one time, amtrak accepted firearms in secure checked baggage, but this policy was changed in 2001. the commonsense amendment before us today is straightforward. it simply says that if amtrak continues to deny the right of gun owners to securely transport firearms in checked luggage, the rail line will no longer receive a federal subsidy of $1.55 billion. at the quft leadershi request op of the committee, mr. president, i have modified my amendment to make it effective only after march 31, 2010, in order to give the agency adequate time in which to comply with this amendment. i want all of my colleagues in the chamber to know that the amendment before us today mirrors current t.s.a. requirements to check a firearm
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for air travel. i must say that these requirements are detailed and strict. for example, should my amendment pass, the following requirements must be met. number one, a passenger who wishes to transport a firearm must be traveling on a route that accepts checked luggage. number two, the passenger must declare the firearm before boarding the train. number three, the firearm must be unloaded and stored in a ha hard-side container that is locked, just like is required on the airlines. and, number four, only the passenger can have the key or combination for the container. mr. president, this was done successfully by amtrak prior to 2001 without incident. regional rail lines, such as alaska railroad corporation, allow firearms as i'm trying to do in this amendment, and that is done currently in alaska
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railroad corporation, again, without incident. it is sometimes much more convenient for sportsmen to trail by rail, particularly in rural and remote parts of the country. the alaska railroad corporation knows that there's no need to show prejudice for lawful americans sportsmen. that's why their travelers may transport firearms in checked luggage, and that's why we're asking nothing more than that and nothing less than that of the government-controlled amtrak system. mr. president, i might also add that spending is certainly out of control in washington and it is hard for me to imagine congress considering providing over $1.5 billion to amtrak while the rail line intentionally limits its revenue and chooses not to receive passenger miles from this specific and law-abiding segment
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of travelers. americans should not have their second amendment rights restricted for any reason, particularly if they choose to travel on america's federally subsidized rail line. a vote in support of this amendment is a vote in support of the second amendment and for the right of gun owners across america. and i urge the amendment's adoption. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: mr. vitter: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to call off any quorum call if that's operative. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to set aside any pending amendment and call up amendment number 2376. the presiding officer: is there objection?
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without objection, so ordered. mr. vitter: thank you. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from louisiana, mr. vitter, proposes an amendment numbered 2376. mr. vitter: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to waive reading of the whole. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, my amendment number 2376 is very simple and straightforward. but to understand it, we need to go back a little bit to 1998. in 1998, congress passed the quality housing and work responsibility act, a law requiring all able-bodied people living in public housing to perform eight hours per month of community service, with the idea that individuals who were getting this benefit from all of the other taxpayers should give back -- should contribute to the community as some partial repayment for the very significant benefit they were
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getting. i think that concept had and i certainly hope it still has widespread consensus bipartisan support. it has been the law since 1998. unfortunately, mr. president, some folks in congress, i believe a minority, but some folks in couldn't want to throw this basic, straightforward community service requirement out the window. in fact, mr. president, 2001, these proponents actually got language included in the v.a.-h.u.d. appropriations bill which temporarily, for that one fiscal year, did do away with this community service requirement. it was just that one year. that's the only year since 1998 where the requirement was thrown out the window. but it did happen in that year. now, unfortunately, mr. president, those same folks,
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like-minded folks, have made the attempt again. and in this year's v.a.-h.u.d. appropriations bill on the house side, before a lot of advocates for the community service requirement were able to take notice, a similar amendment doing away with the community service requirement was passed through the house by voice. again, this really slipped through the advocates of the community service requirement, did not notice. otherwise there would have demanded a roll call vote. but it did slip through by voice. and so, mr. president, it's very important that we correct that and preserve the community service requirement in the senate version of the bill so we can also preserve it in the final version of this appropriations bill. again, mr. president, this is a very basic, straightforward idea that i believe the huge majority
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of the american people agree with. it's simply saying if you're getting a benefit from the taxpayer, you're getting free or highly subsidized public housing and you're able-bodied, then you should help repay for that benefit by simply devoting eight hours per month. not per week. eight hours per month to community service. mr. president, i want to emphasize a few things. number one, this applies to fully able-pwoepded recipients -- able-bodied recipients only. exempted residents include those who are disabled and certify that they can't comply with the requirement, caretakers of a person with a disability, those engaged in work activities or exempt from work activities under tanf.
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family members in compliance with tanf. they would be except or are exempt from this. even after you take all those exempt individuals out, h.u.d. estimates there are approximately 100,000 to 150,000 households which include folks who would have to meet this requirement. now, again, mr. president, i believe when you consider the requirement -- eight hours of community service per month -- when you consider the exemptions for folks over 62, for folks who have any disability, for folks who aren't able-bodied in any way, that this public service requirement is truly minimal and thoroughly reasonable. i believe that's why it passed into law in 1998 with broad
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public support and with bipartisan support. and i believe that's why we should retain it in law today and make sure the house attempt to throw that requirement out the window and this bill is not successful. public housing authorities are given broad discretion in implementing and enforcing this requirement. there is no absolute penalty. folks are not immediately thrown out of their public housing. so all of this has been done in as modest, quite frankly, and absolutely reasonable way as pofpblt i urge my colleagues, democrats and republicans, to retain this important part of present law, to retain this commonsense approach that a wide majority, a broad majority of american people support. i would certainly hope this amendment could be accepted, or
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if not, retained by a good vote on the floor of the senate. that is overwhelming on my part. with that, mr. president, i yield back my time and note the absence of a quorum. mrs. murray: mr. president, if the senator could withhold on that quorum? the presiding officer: will the senator withhold? mr. vitter: yes, i will. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. the senator from louisiana has raised an amendment to make sure that the community service requirements for people living in public housing remain in effect. this community service requirement is included as part of the existing law and it's currently being enforced by public housing authorities. the senator's amendment, what it does is simply restate current law. i would be happy to accept it if the senator is willing to just, we can take it on a voice vote at the present time, i'm willing to move forward with it. mr. vitter: mr. president, i'll be happy to consider that offer and get back to the distinguished senator. my only concern is that we have as much ammunition as possible
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to retain this provision in conference, which a very good roll call vote could perhaps give us. and so that's my only concern since the house version of the bill has taken this language out. so i'll be happy to consider that offer and personally follow up with the distinguished senator. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. again, we're happy to accept the amendment right now if the senator wants to have a vote, if we can work out a time to do that, i'd be happy to do that as well. thank you. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. with that, i yield back my time and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. carper: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. carper: i come to the floor today with a little bit of a history lesson, to look back and also to look forward. i ask my colleagues to join me in looking back some almost 375 years. it was almost that time the first swedes and finns sailed to america on a couple of boats. the first came to shore, actually came up the delaware bay up into the delaware river and took a left turn at an uncharted river and decided to name it after the child queen of sweden, named it the christina river. they landed their boats in a
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place we now call the rocks and decided to name that area the colony of new sweden. the first finns came ashore in what is really know really womennington, delaware. for the first year they never called it wilmington. they called it new sweden. but they came by ships, and actually for the next 300 years, a lost ships were built along the banks of the christina river, especially from the period of 1940 to 1945-1946, right during the ha heart of world war ii, among the ships that were built there were destroyer escorts, troupe landing ships and a variety of other vessels. it helped to win the washings helped to win world war ii. and when the -- when world war ii was in its most robust, fullest form, we had 10,000 people, 10,000 people who worked on the banks of the christina river building those ships.
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a few years after the war was ended, what had been a vibrant ship-building area along the christina river, dried up. the activity went away. the war was won, and what had ban vibrant shipbuilding area became, over time, a decaying industrial wasteland, with relatively little new activity. in the 1960's, i-95 was built up the northeast correspondent deavor our country, mid-atlantic part of our -- and it literally cut wilmington, delaware, in half. and off to the right -- to the east of i-95 was the christina river. and, toad that the northeast correspondent derks the amtrak main line between washington and boston, the main line of amtrak also set between i-95 and the
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christina river, and served to make it difficult for people even to access the river, almost even hard to know that it was there. i became governor in 1993, and toward the end of that year, i was visited by a former governor, russ peterson, and by a former president of the university of delaware, and they told me -- they said, we've been thinking of an idea. actually been working under the direction of a joint resolution signed by former governor mike castle to think about what the potential could be foyer development along -- for development along the christina river and the creek not far away. he said, we haven't finished our job. we need more time. we're about to run out of time under our joint resolution, wonder if we could have a little more time to think it through. i said, hey, look, i'm up to my eyes. you guys take as much time as you need. they went away. i wasn't sure i'd over talk to
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them again. about six month months later, ty came back. they said, remember our coming in and talking to you? i said, i remember that. he said, we have done more work on a vision, if you will, of what the christina river, this industrial waste whraindz, on either side of the river what it could be. we'd like to share that with you today. i said, have at t at that point, things were settling down and i was ready to listen. they had these big architect rendering of the riverfront that certainly looked nothing like the christina river. didn't look at all like an industrial wasteland. it was a river that was pristine with parks, walking paths, boats out on the river, museums, restaurants, places for people to live, places for people to work, theaters, museums.
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i'll never forget. i looked at it. i was just gloa blown away by te vision. i said to governor peterson, i said, who's going to make all this happen? and he looked at me right in the eye and said, "you are." and i said, why me? he says, well, because you're the governor. and i said, well, i love this vision, and let's see if we can't help to realize it. i think that conversation was in 1994. anybody who today takes the train up the northeast corridor stops at the wilmington train station, they would say, we've made a lot of progress. the place is cleaned up. we actually have walking paths along the river. we have parks. we have beautiful places where people live in condominiums and apartments, as well as in other homes. we have restaurants, we have museums, we're going to have -- hopefully that's why we're here
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today -- a science along the riverfront. a lot of people come there to eat at restaurants along the riverfront. the water quality is cleaned up. the environmental hazards and so forth, waste that was left there has been for the most part cleaned up. and there's -- in probably another month or so, we're going to open up a 250-acre wildlife refuge named at former governor peterson done in partnership with the dupont corporation. and we'll see what might have been some 100 years ago, 50 years ago in that place. about 10 years ago when i was nearing the end of my time as governor, my second term, a group of citizens in our state came to see me and they said --
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they were excited by the riverfront and what was happening there. and they said, you know, delaware doesn't have a children's museum. they said, i think every other state does. we don't. in fact, it turns out, there are about 250 children's museums across the country. and they said, we're interested in having a children's museum to go with all the other attractions on the riverfront. and we talked about it for sometime and i said, i like the ievmentd i like the concept, but to till the truth, i'd be a lot more interested if it was a children's science museum. how do we get young people, kids excited, motivated about science? how do we get them excited about careers in science? it's all well and good. the state is big in tourism, big in financial services. we have a great history with chemicals -- the chemical industry, ship building at one time. but we i, in our nation, in my
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state, we need more scientists, more engineers, people who are going to go out and be inventors, create thifntle and help us create jobs in the 21st century. whejts it is on clean energy -- whether it is on clean energy, new ways to create nuclear power, we need people like that, too. it starts very soon. we have adopted in my state academic standards for math and science and social studies. this is what we expect you to know and learn, be able towed. most every stayed has done that. as i said earlier, most every other state has decided they're going to have their own children's museum. the folks who presented their idea to me about it a decade ago, i told him -- i said, if you want me to be involved, you want me to be as excited as you are, i want to change the focus. not just to be a children's museum in delaware. i want it to be a children's museum that focuses on science. i want young people to come here
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and leave here excited about wanting to be astronauts or wanting to be environmentalists, or wanting to create new ways to harness the energy. sun -- harness the energy of the sun or find ways to deal with spent fuel from spent fuel rods. over time, the focus of this concept, this idea of the children's museum has turned to the focus of science. and to date i'm told we've raised over $11 million for the project. we've actually picked out the building. i think they have a lease or a contract on a large structure right in the bend of theories stein in a river in wilmington, which is where cay hoon i cahood to be. for years people went there and had a great time. had some big acts there over the years. bob dylan performed there, hall
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and oates. it is a large empty building now. actually lends itself to being a terrific site for the science museum. for the kids of delaware. so far to date, we've raised over $11 million. to date the federal government has provided about $250,000. so out of $11 million, less than 3% has come from the federal government. i've asked for an appropriation, a directed appropriation of about another $190,000. i appreciate very much the support of the appropriations committee to include that amount. if it is included in what we've already appropriated, it would be about $450,000 out of a budget of roughly $11.5 million, roughly 4% of the total. a lot of the moneys that come from the private sector, a fair amount from local, state and local sources as well. i'll give you a flavor for the kinds of exhibit exhibits we'lle there. i'll just mention the names of
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some of the sponsors. the dupont company has been great. they're a wonderful environmental company. but they -- they've agreed to help sponsor the next couple years an exhibit that focuses on environmental issues and i think largely focusing on estuaries. but something to just excite kids about, the quality of our water and preserving the quawf y of our water. astrazeneca is going to help us create an exhibit on the human body, something interactive that the kids can rulely get into and he enjoy and learn from. one of our larger banks, j.p. morgan chase sphwog help with us a project that focuses on financial literacy. anything that would help us all, young and old, i think the events of the last year have pointed out that. we'll have exhibits that focus on clean energy, wind, solar.
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we'll have ways to use wind and solar, to show -- demonstrate really how -- we'll have an exhibit to fo focus on conservation. a smart grid. we'll have some focus on, among other things, nuclear energy and show how we actually create electricity from nuclear power. those are some of the things -- what i -- what our vision is that when -- when kids leave the children's science museum on the banks of the christina river, they will be juiced. they'll be excited. and they will want to come back there again. or just as importantly, when they go back to class the next day or the next week, they'll be thinking about their math assignments, maybe their science assignments, a little differently and say -- trying to provide a connection. how is what i'm learning in my classroom relevant to what's going on in our world? and maybe what's going on in the
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classroom, how is it relevant to what i'm doing in my life's work later when i finish school and go out into the school? we need more scientists, more engineers. god knows we need more of both of those. we need people who are going to invent things. can always make this a better world. for what i think is a fairly modest investment on the behalf of the federal government, about 4% of a much bigger project, i think it is a very good investment, not just for kids in delaware but for the kids that will graduate from the school and go on to help others in delaware and across the country, maybe even around the world. and those are some of the reasons i've asked for this appropriation. i am grateful to the congress for supporting this a year ago, when we asked for em $250,000. it was -- for about $250,000. with this money, if we're success until in getting this
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aproarntion we'll be able to go forward and hopefully open the museum in the spring of next year, which would be a good thing not just for us in delaware but on a broader scale for a lot of folks in our country. for w. that said, i yield back my time and i see we've been joined by the former governor of virginia, whose state i reckon a number of those children's science museums -- i remember taking our boyce when they were younger to a couple of them around the country. there is a four-year college up in boston. back then my little brother -- now a very big brother -- he's guy who is really good at math and a bufnlg of other things as well. i think maybe a little bit of that came from those visits all those years ago. i'm happy to yield the floor. thank you. mr. warner: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. warner: mr. president, i'd like to commend my colleague and good friend from delaware for
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his compassion and interest not only in what sound like a very worthy project in delaware but his constant commitment to making sure that we're always looking over that next horizon, whether it is in education, energy, whether it is in a host of issues that he's been involved in as a member of congress, as a governor and now as the senior senator from delaware, and the project he describes sounds like it is quite a good one. i hope he gets favorable consideration from the committee and i would be welcome in the chance to support him in that project. i want to talk about a project that is already in this very important 2010 transportation-h.u.d. appropriations bill. and i want to commend subcommittee chair, the senator from washington, and the ranking member for their good worng this bill -- for their good work on this bill. there's a certain amount of celebration in this bill for
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those of us in the greater washington region because this transportation appropriations bill is actually the culmination, in many way, of an effort that has been ongoing in the greater washington area for close to 50 years, mr. president. mr. president, even when your dad served in the other body, one of the things i know he probably had to experience was when flying into our region, particularly flying in to dulles, he might find it difficult to get from dull he is into -- from dull less into greater washington. one of the most remark things that has always stunned me as a virginian and as a longtime resident of the national capital area is that we have never had a rail or metro blinkag metrolinks into our nation's capitol.
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with action taken earlier this year, we have in place a financings arrangement and beginnings of construction for the long overdue dulles metro rail project. it is a project that is part of a 50-year planning effort that started with the construction of the dulles airport and throughout that whole time there was always reserved, for anybody that's made this time in -- and i know you've flown in that airport many times, mr. president -- has seen that corridor in the middle of that road that's been reserved for ultimately building out rail. the existing washington metro system, to include out all i way the extension to dulles. this is a project that my predecessor worked on for years. it was one of his proud accomplishments, finalizing the federal support thor this project. i want to commend his et ceteras in the past. it is a project that i have been involved with for over 20 years. first when i was on the commonwealth transportation board when we had to preserve
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that corridor for ultimately a metro rail project. i recall back in the late-1980's, early 1990's efforts to try to take away that right-of-way so that it could be used for additional highway construction and there was always a need to say, no, we need to reserve that. at some point we will finally get medica metro rail. we will finally get rail to dulles. it was a project i worked on as governor as well. there were a number of times that we tried to put together a very complex financing arrangement. could we make sure that all of the partners, state, local, and federal, would step up th to the plate and make sure that our ndges gateway airport is linked to the nation's capital? well, i'm proud to report that earlier this year in march secretary lahood and former senator warner, myself, governor
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kane, congressman wolf of the other body, we got together and we signed the final funding arrangement that committed the federal government, commonwealth of virginia and our local communities on this critically important project. and it is new needed to link international passengers that come into dulles with our nation's capital. but this corridor is the economickic hub of northern virginia. dulles serves 34 passengers, the population in the dulles corridor is expected to increase 57%. mr. president as someone i know you travel that corridor on a regular basis, you have seen how it is built up over the years and that will continue to be the expansion of a great deal of economic activity for all of northern virginia and all of the washington area, particularly in the high-tech sector.
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so the fact that this past march the full funding agreement was signed, $900 million in -- over a period of the whole project was committed from federal funds. but let me make clear that it's not only the federal government that's stepping you on this critically important project. the commonwealth of virginia is committed to be a major partner in funding. the localities have stepped forward in terms of funding. there's been some very creative activities in terps of creating a special taxing district of our local appropriate owners in the region who will benefit from the metro rail extension, they're -- they've got skin in the game as well. the state is contributing some of the toll revenues from our toll road in the corridor. so this is a -- a project even during these difficult economic times where the state -- the localities and the federal government has stepped up in a major way. so it will be enormously
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beneficial to our whole region. it will be enormously beneficial to the the question and to our nation's -- commonwealth and to our nation's capital for those who come for a visit all over the world and they'll have an opportunity to take an ever expensive increasing cab but also jump on the train. there is another important reason for continuing this project and this is the dulles corridor metrorail project has critical homeland security ramifications, expanding metrorail into the dulles corridor is important in terms of evacuation opportunities if the nation's capital is under assault. and it is important in terms of economic activities and tourism activities. this project is crucial to the well-being of the national capital region.
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as a matter of fact today, mr. president, i was out in tyson's corner, and while we were caught in some pretty dreadful traffic, there was a little bit of a mixed blessing, part of the traffic is because construction has actually started on some of the rail stops in the tysons area that will ultimately leave not only traffic congestion, and obviously relieving that traffic congestion, reduces the greenhouse gas, so this has added benefits on an issue that i know is very important to the president and the chair in terms of dealing with climate change so i know there are others in this body that perhaps have raised questions about some of the projects that are included in this 2010 transportation h.u.d. appropriations bill. i stand here in saying this is one of those projects that i can't imagine anyone being critical of. this is a project that has been 50 years in the making.
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enormous time, effort an resources have gone into it. the fact that the final funding agreement has been signed, we have broken ground. it is a time to celebrate. and the $85 million that is included in this year's appropriation funding for the downpayment and first installment of what is going to be a critical federal funding stream is a very, very worthy project that is going to have benefits to this region and to our capital for many years to come. and i want to commend the chair -- the appropriation committee and my colleague and friend, the senator from washington, for her great work not only on this dulles metrorail project. that i know is a frequent flier in and out of dulles. i hope that she is the immediate beneficiary of that as well. but to all of the members of the subcommittee on this bill, this important project, and the many other projects that are in this
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legislation. mr. president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. a senator: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. a senator: mr. president, the senate appropriations committee has reported all 12 appropriation bills for fiscal year 2010, and the senate has considered and passed four of those bills. i expect that the
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transportation, housing and urban development bill we're now considering will be the fifth. mr. cochran: i'm pleased that the full senate has had the opportunity to consider and debate the policies and priorities embodied in these bills. all senators have had the opportunity to question the managers and to offer amendments if they wanted to do so. by next week, i expect the house and senate will be convening conference committees to complete action on the bills that have already passed the senate. it's a fact, however, that there are only two weeks remaining in this fiscal year. we will probably need to pass a short-term continuing resolution to keep the remainder of the government running beyond september 30. while we anticipate that we'll be able to pass such a resolution, i think it's important that we complete
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action on the remaining appropriations bill as soon as possible. we've sent a letter dated march 24 to the majority leader of the senate, suggested by the distinguished senator from tennessee, mr. corker, back last march, and in that letter we requested the leadership allocate an appropriate amount of time for the senate to consider, vote and initiate the conference process on each of the 12 appropriations bills independently through a deliberative and transparent process. that letter stated a goal of passing eight of the 12 bills before the august recess. and while the senate did not meet that goal of passing eight bills before the august recess, i think we did make great progress.
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and i have to congratulate the distinguished chairman from washington for helping lead the way and help us achieve that progress. to the -- to a degree, we have been hampered by the lateness of the president's budget request and the necessity of waiting for the house to pass the appropriations bills first. but the house has now passed all of its bills and we have a window of floor time available to consider the remaining bills here in the senate. i believe strongly that all members should have the opportunity to consider the bills and participate in this process, offer amendments if they choose to do so. but with the end of the fiscal year approaching and floor time becoming a precious commodity, we should not have to spend large blocks of time quorum calls, waiting for senators to offer amendments. at some point, the bills will have to be taken up and passed,
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one way or another. in the past, this has meant packaging bills together into omnibus bills and we know how well that's received -- not at all. and all but a few members lose the opportunity really participate and contribute through the amendment process and debate and influencing the outcome of conference reports. mr. president, i have concerns about the budget proposed by the president, most of which is embodied in the congressional budget resolution that provides the framework for the appropriation process. i voted for several amendments to the budget resolution which would reduce spending from the levels proposed by the president. i also voted against the resolution itself. i think the level of debt that we have accumulated is alarming.
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the fact remains, however, that congress has approved the president's budget. while an omnibus appropriations bill would highlight the problems with the president's spending policies, i do not think that that course of action would be helpful to the process. by considering the bills individually, though, all senators will be given an opportunity to have meaningful input and participation in the process and that is as it should be. so i look forward to continuing to work with the distinguished chairman, mr. inouye, our subcommittee chairs and our two leaders and all senators to complete the appropriations process in an orderly and timely fashion that will reflect credit on the united states senate.
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the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i want to thank the senator from mississippi for his remarks. as ranking member, former chairman of this committee, he knows full well that we work very hard to accomplish and complete has to bills and to get them done in a timely fashion, we are work our hearts out to get that done. to that point, the bill before us, the transportation and housing bill, has now been on the floor of the senate thursday afternoon and evening, friday, monday, all of today, and we will finish it tomorrow. so for any senators who are sitting throughout with issues, you need to come to the floor, get them resolved. we hope to start a series of votes tomorrow morning to get through a number of the amendments that are out there and finish this so that we can move to the interior appropriations bill tomorrow. so, again, for the notification of all senators, to the point that the senator from mississippi raised, come to the floor, resolve your disagreements or help us schedule a vote; we're going to finish this bill tomorrow. thank you, mr. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president?
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the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: mr. president, i would ask permission to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, i want to touch opinion an issue that i think has not gotten as much consideration here in the senate as it might and that is that for the first time since 1975 and in the midst of a major, major recession, senior citizens in our country who are on social security will not, unless we act, be receiving a cost-of-living adjustment this year. let me repeat that again. for the first time since 1975 and while we are in the midst of a major economic recession which is causing havoc with the lives of all of our people, including senior citizens, this year unless congress acts, senior citizens will not be getting a cost-of-living adjustment. among other things, mr. president, this would mean
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that monthly social security payments would drop -- would drop -- for millions of retirees because medicare prescription drug premiums, the medicare part-d program, which are deducted from social security payments, are scheduled to increase. so what we are looking at is not only will tens of millions of american seniors not receive any increase in social security, but many, in fact, will see a reduction 7 -- reduction because their social security checks will go to pay for an increase in medicare part-d payments. mr. president, i would suggest that in the midst of the worst recession since the great depression, we cannot allow that to happen. mr. president, many senior citizens in this country have recently within the last year or two seen a significant dewine in
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their savings because of the losses they incurred with a drop in the stock market. many have seen their pension disappear. many have seen the value of their homes dramatically diminished. and all of this is taking place at a time while poverty among senior citizens is going up and the number of seniors who are declaring bankruptcy is also increasing. most importantly, i think it is imperative that sooner than later, we take a hard look to determine how colas for social security beneficiaries are, in fact, determined. and some years ago when i was a member of the house, i introduced legislation to establish a separate index for seniors because the simple reality is, is it wrong to include seniors in the overall index because thei their needs,w
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they spend their money, is often very different than how the rest of the population spend their money. if you are a young person or a middle-aged person and you want to go out and buy a laptop computer today, for example, the odds are you're going to get a pretty good price on that computer and the price of that computer will be substantially lower than it was a couple of years ago. so for you, inflation for your expenditures on technology may well have gone down. on the other hand, if you are a senior citizen, especially one that does not have a whole lot of money, how are you spending your money? well, a very significant cost for seniors, obviously, is health care. and for those needs that medicare does not cover, the truth is that health care costs, as we all know, are exploding, they're going up. so if you are a senior, the odds are that you are spending a lot more for health care out of your own pocket this year than you did last year. if you are a senior and you get
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caught in the doughnut hole of medicare part-d, you are spending a lot of money because prescription drug costs in many instances are also going up. so i think that when we take a look at the cola, we should understand that the needs of somebody who is 75 or 80 years of age and how he or she spends their money from an inflation perspective is very different from somebody who's 18 years of age or maybe 40 years of age. but be that as it may, there can be no debate that millions of senior citizens today, in the midst of this recession, are hurting very, very badly. and i think we would be doing a great disservice to them by turning our backs on their needs and not making sure that we are providing some financial support to them. therefore, i am asking my colleagues to join me in
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becoming an original cosponsor of the emergency senior citizens relief act elementary schoo legi will be formally introducing on thursday. under this legislation, all social security recipients, railroad retirees, s.s.i. beneficiaries, and adults receiving veterans benefits will receive a one-time additional check of $250 in 2010. since seniors living on fixed income are most likely to spend this money, whether it is on health care, whether it is trying to keep warm this winter, this legislation would provide a boost to our economy as it emerges from the economic crisis. and i very much appreciate that my colleague from vermont, senator leahy, is an original cosponsor, and i hope within the next couple of days, we can have more. mr. president for more than three decades, seniors have
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relied on a cost-of-living adjustment in their social security benefits to keep up with their increased expenses. unfortunately, the current formulation for determination social security colas in my view does not accurately take into account the purchasing needs of today's seniors who often do not buy items like laptop computers and cellular phones but spend, as i mentioned a moment ago, a disproportionate amount of their income on health care needs and prescription drugs. mr. president, the truth is what we are proposing now is something very similar to what the obama administration provided for in the stimulus package and this legislation that we are offering is fully paid for by simple applyin a-- y applying the social security payroll tax to house incomes above $250,000 and below
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$359,000 in 2010. under current law, only the first $106,000 of earned income is subject to the social security payroll tax. thus, a worker earning $106,000 pays the same payroll tax as a c.e.o. making $300 million. this legislation begins to correct this inequity in 2010 while making sure that seniors receive a fair increase in benefits next year. and i should point out in terms of this offset, no one in america earning $250,000 or less would see their payroll taxes go up at all. so, mr. president, i think this is an important issue. i think seniors all over this country are worried about their financial situation. they want the united states congress to pay attention to their needs, and i think that a one-time financial support of a
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check of $250, while not a whole lot of money, would at least help many people not see a reduction in their social security checks and would be of real help. mr. president, with that, i would yield the floor and i believe note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session to consider calendar numbers 416, 417, 423, 424, 425 and 426, that the nominations be confirmed en bloc and the motions to reconsider be laid on the table en bloc, that no further motions be in order, that any statements relating to the nominations appear at the appropriate place in the record as if read, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: ask the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, i rise to speak in opposition of the wicker amendment, number 2366 pending before the senate, with the transportation and the entire thud bill it's known around here. i'm trying to remember exactly what that includes. but i know it's transportation, housing, urban development bill. and this is a bill which obviously includes amtrak, because senator wicker of mississippi has offered an amendment which relates directly to the funding for amtrak and whether or not it will be cut off. the senator from mississippi says that the -- in his amendment that he would cut off all federal transportation funding for amtrak in the next fiscal year unless amtrak allows
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its passengers to transport guns in their checked baggage. this amendment would essentially impose upon amtrak the standards for checking guns and ammunition that currently applies to airplanes. however, planes and trains are very different systems -- have very different systems for handling checked baggage and different security concerns. let's talk about the effect of the wicker amendment. amtrak has said that it's not ready to allow guns and ammunition to be transported in checked baggage. amtrak doesn't have the security infrastructure, the processes or the trained personnel in place to ensure that checked firearms would not be lost, damaged, stolen or misused. senator wicker is imposing a new burden on the amtrak train
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system in america, clearly an unfunded mandate, so that some passenger -- i don't know how many, but some -- can check firearms in their baggage. if this amendment becomes law, amtrak would have to let guns checked in baggage onboard regardless of the fact that they ampt preparearen't prepared forr they forfeit federal transportation funding that the railroad desperately needs to provide services to millions of americans. now, i understand the senator from mississippi is going to modify his amendment to provide for a march 2010 effective date which, in effect, gives about five or six months for amtrak to hire additional security personnel, to buy the equipment or create the equipment for this checked baggage, to establish procedures at all of the amtrak stations across america for the senator from mississippi's amendment so that some people can check a firearm on to an
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amtrak train. i don't know if six months is feasible for amtrak to make such a significant policy change. why is the senator from mississippi determined that we have to in six months make sure that any american who legally observelegallyowns a gun can tam on an amtrak train in checked baggage? shouldn't we take the time to take a look at this and decide questions -- basic questions of safety and cost before we vote for them? amtrak's current policy prohibits any type of firearm, explosive or weapon from being checked or carried on in baggage. this policy was put in place in the year 2004. you want to know why amtrak put this policy in place in 2004? it was after the madrid, spain, train attack that killed 191 people and wounded 1,800 more. amtrak's reasons for this policy were clear: safety and security.
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it was put in place in the aftermath of terrorist attacks that claimed lives. and let me quote from a statement issued by amtrak on its current policy. quote - -- "amtrak accepted firearms in checked baggage at one time. weapons had to be separately secured in baggage or containers. however, after the terrorist attacks of september 11, 2001, amtrak began to place restrictions on the carriage of weapons on amtrak trains. in 2004, the review and evaluation of numerous security measures occurred again after the attack on passenger trains in madrid, spain, on april 11, 2004. the purpose of this policy revision was to better ensure the safety and security of amtrak passengers and employees. amtrak decided to implement a total weapons prohibition, chug firearms -- including firearms. there was an exception. amtrak made an exception for sworn law enforcement personnel.
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today that policy is still in effect." that exception is reasonable for sworn law enforcement personnel. they may be transporting a passenger or a convict. who knows? but the senator from mississippi wants to go beyond that. he wants to allow anyone who legally owns a gun in america -- and i might tell you that the standards in many states are not that high for the ownership of firearms -- that anyone who owns a firearm in america could impose upon amtrak an obligation to check baggage with a loaded -- unload, i should say, firearm in a container, as specified, and that amtrak has to set up the process for that passenger, regardless of the cost to amtrak, which, incidentally, neither the senator from mississippi or anyone else on the senate floor knows. we have no idea what this is going to cost. this amendment simply disregards the risk assessment that amtrak
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conducted for the security of our rail network. it calls for eliminating all funding for amtrak unless they adopt the senator from mississippi's policy on checking firearms in baggage. the stakes for amtrak are enormously high. in the current fiscal year, congress has appropriated $1.49 billion for amtrak's operations and capital improvements. this amendment would say that congress couldn't give one dollar to amtrak unless it changes the policy, as the senator from mississippi insists. well, i can tell what you amtrak means to my state of illinois. more and more people are relying on amtrak with the cost of gasoline. thank goodness they are. they're using amtrak trains. fewer cars on the highway, less pollution.families ar. families are saving money. it's a godsend for those who use them in college towns, sending their kids to school and letting
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the kids return using the trains. senator wicker's home state of mississippi, amtrak had a ridership of 100,000 people last year. now, that number isn't as large as the 4.4 million in my home state but it's a fair number of people in mississippi who found it convenient to ride on amtrak trains. last year, amtrak employed 72 people in mississippi, paid out over $4.5 million in wages, and the senator from mississippi says, if you don't accept my amendment to allow firearms in checked baggage, close it down. nationwide last year, 28.7 million passengers rode on amtrak, an average of more than 78,000 passengers per day. amtrak employs nearly 18,000 people nationwide with good jo jobs. but the senator from mississippi would rather see amtrak's funding, riders and employees set aside unless he's satisfied with amtrak's checked baggage policy that allows people to take firearms on to trains in
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checked baggage. besides concerns about terrori terrorism, there are legitimate safety concerns with permitting weapons in checked bags on trains. amtrak doesn't have the personnel, systems or security infrastructure needed to manage firearms aboard passenger trains. amtrak cannot effectively safeguard against theft, loss, damage, or misuse of transported guns. does the senator from mississippi expect amtrak to assign someone to the baggage car to guard the suitcases that may contain the firearms? if he does, how is he going to pay for that? passenger trains don't have nearly the baggage handling safeguards that airplanes do. checked baggage on trains is carried in a separate train car, and i want to tell you, most of the rolling stock of amtrak is decades old and certainly these baggage cars are as well, and they were never designed with this level of security in mind.
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these train baggage cars are much easier to access durin
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